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Shida Kartli

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Shida Kartli (Georgian: შიდა ქართლი, meaning "Upper Kartli") is a region in the central north of Georgia (country), which borders Russia to the north. Gori is the principal city and administrative center of the region.

Regions[edit]

  • Kaspi (კასპი k'ah-sp'ee)
  • Kareli (ქარელი kah-reh-lee)
  • Khasuri (ხასური khah-soo-ree)
  • Gori (გორი goh-ree)
  • Java (ჯავა jah-vah)
  • The City of Tskhinvali (ცხინვალი tskheen-vah-lee)
  • South Ossetia — the South Ossetian government claims fall almost entirely within the Shida Kartli region

Cities[edit]

  • Kaspi
  • Kareli
  • Khasuri
  • Gori — the administrative center of Shida Kartli and Stalin's hometown; Shida Kartli's most accessible and famous tourist sites (in particular, Uplistsikhe are all located in and around this principal city
  • Tskhinvali — the administrative capital of the secessionist government of South Ossetia


Other destinations[edit]

  • Uplistsikhe — a 3,000 year old cave city on the Silk Road

Understand[edit]

Within Shida Kartli there is a very strong division between the northern and southern regions. The northern part of the region (Java, the City of Tskhinvali, and northern parts of Kareli and Gori) is claimed by the secessionist government of South Ossetia and is not under the de facto control of the Georgian central government. Within this northern part of Shida Kartli, ethnic Ossetes constitute the majority of the population and lend the region a different culture. The rest of Shida Kartli, in the south, is predominantly inhabited by ethnic Georgians and shares its culture closely with neighboring regions.

Talk[edit]

Language usage within Shida Kartli varies by region, principally across the north-south/Ossete-Georgian divide. In the southern parts of the region under Georgian control, people principally speak Georgian, but a large minority also speaks Russian. In the north, Ossetian is the language of the ethnic Ossetes, but many if not most Ossetes will also be conversant in Russian. Georgian is often understood, but due to the serious ethnic conflict, travelers attempting to speak Georgian within South Ossetia may encounter hostility.

Get in[edit]

  • Marshrutka: Marshrutkas run frequently from Tbilisi's Didube market to Gori and Tskhinvali via Gori. Less frequent service is available from Kutaisi.
  • Taxi: Taxis to the Gori region can be hired on the cheap from Tbilisi's Didube market. For a significantly higher price, taxis will take travelers to other destinations within Shida Kartli.
  • Russian border: The entire Russian-Georgian border is closed to non-CIS country nationals. Due to regional instability and corruption on both sides of the North Ossetian-South Ossetian border, this border crossing is not recommended even if you possess a passport from a CIS country.

Get around[edit]

  • Public transport: It is possible to flag down the local buses and marshrutkas (and cars willing to pick up hitchhikers) run frequently along Shida Kartli's main north-south road. For any destinations off the main road, it is advisable to go to the local bus station early in the morning to inquire about service.
  • For higher price (although still cheap), it is possible to hire a taxi from virtually anywhere in the region to get to the main cities. To get to smaller destinations, it is best to go to the local bus station to see if any taxi drivers are interested. If only making a day trip to a small destination, it is fairly easy to hire a driver for the full day at reasonable rates (no more than 30$).

See[edit][add listing]

The most interesting sites in Shida Kartli are unquestionably the amazing, ancient cave city of Uplistsikhe near Gori, and the Stalin Museum in the center of Gori—a visitor to the region should skip neither. Gori has several other interesting historical sites, including a Roman Empire-era fortress, Gori Jvari (a small mountain top monastery), Gori Gimnasium - restored former Seminary, where Stalin studied and other Stalin-related sites, (being, as it is, Stalin's hometown).

Further north, the safest place to visit (though it is most certainly not a safe place to visit), is Tskhinvali. Ethnic conflict, vandalism, and even looting have left the city with little to offer a tourist, but the city center has a couple interesting monuments to Ossete historical figures, and to the conflict itself.

Itineraries[edit]

Do[edit][add listing]

Eat[edit][add listing]

Drink[edit][add listing]

Stay safe[edit]

Warning: South Ossetia is considered the most dangerous and unstable part of Georgia and it is not a recommended tourist destination. The sporadic fighting between the central government and secessionists has waned since the open conflict between Russian and Georgian troops. But the regular violence and banditry that persists, facilitated by the general lawlessness of the region, is a much bigger threat than the skirmishes ever were. Yes, Russian peacekeepers control the area militarily, but they are not an administrative police force—you will not be able to count on them for help. Southern Shida Kartli is a perfectly safe travel destination, but it is generally inadvisable to travel much farther north than Gori.

Get out[edit]

When leaving Shida Kartli, it is best to take off from one of the region's two principal cities: Gori or Tskhinvali. From these two cities, there is regular traffic heading south towards Georgia's main east-west highway. Going from Shida Kartli to Tbilisi is straightforward. Travelers wishing to head west towards Imereti and Kutaisi, however, should plan to go to the bus station early as there is considerably less traffic headed in this direction.

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